Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain… or Should You?

Last night was rather exciting. We had just gotten back to my elderly parents’ house after a nice dinner out, when the lights started to blink and we could hear the thunderstorm that had been brewing all day, begin to rev up. I flicked on the TV and was startled to see some dramatic radar of their small town, directly in a tornado’s path. “It will hit Huron in four minutes – TAKE COVER!” The weather man didn’t look like he was kidding, so we hurried into the small bathroom in the middle of their house. I quickly stripped the walls of mirror and framed pictures, put them out in the hall, and grabbed some pillows to cower under. We could hear the wind swirling, and hail pounded the rooftop. After a few minutes, it was clear that the storm had passed, and we emerged unscathed. 

Of course, this made me think about writing.

Two days ago, after I finished wrestling with some changes to my query letter, I celebrated by sending it out to an agent on my “A” list. I’d also been making some alterations to my manuscript, and wasn’t quite done with those, but I pushed away the thought that I might actually get a positive response. Four hours later, I had a request for the first five pages.

Suddenly, I was scrambling to decide whether the changes I’d made were good ones, or if I should send out the previous version. Uncharacteristically torn, I finally asked a writer-friend to read them, for an objective opinion. Her response that both were good helped me to figure things out. I responded to the agent in a timely manner with the old version, minus a few tweaks.

Yesterday morning, when I heard the weather forecast, I had a feeling that I should think about what to do/where to go if there was severe weather while we were at my folks’ house. I came up with a mini-plan, and when the time came to act, I knew what to do.

When I sent that query letter, I ignored a similar feeling, which had told me to finalize things with my manuscript before sending off an invitation to read it. Everything turned out okay, but I was in a tizzy for a while because I had to rush my normal “incubation process” of editing.

I was happy with what I sent to the agent, but the experience would have been much more pleasant if I’d been prepared. I learned my lesson, though, and spent the rest of that day completing the changes to my manuscript. Now, if that agent (or anyone else) wants to see more of my work, all I’ll have to do is push a button.

Listen to that little voice. It could save you.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain… or Should You?

  1. Wonderful advice, and if I may add quick response for an agent. That must mean you’ve mastered your query dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. I agree – really good advice. I’m forever tweaking. I’ve got to force myself to move on.

    Congrats on the request – I’ll cross my fingers for more good news 🙂

  3. layinda,

    This was a wonderful post and one we need to consider heavily as writers. I think we get so excited about finishing that we begin querying before we are really ready.

    This can be a big mistake, as we can burn our one chance with our A listers. It happens all the time.

    By polishing our manuscripts before querying, we can save ourselves a lot of heartache and frustration.

    Thanks for being so honest here and giving us insight into premature querying!

    Hugs and best wishes on the partial~ cat

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